On April 28, US President Donald Trump in his usual bragging manner promised to send 250 ventilators to Nigeria, after declaring that ‘’Nigeria will do anything for ventilators’’. On May 21 during the Ford Motor Plant tour in Michigan, he inflated the figure to 1,000 ventilators. It has been three months since this pledge and Nigeria has not seen so much as an air vent.
It is true that ventilators are expensive, costing from $5,000 – $30,000 each depending on the brand. Although the POTUS did not specify whether he would be merely suplyingh Nigeria with ventilators or making a donation. Surely, expecting Nigerians tight-fisted leaders to cough up such an amount and for 1000 units, is tantamount to sentencing critical Covid patients to death
Even so, there is still a valley of doubt as to whether Trump will make good on his promise. Recall, that in the heat of the COVID-19 strugle, Trump had told governors of the US states to try getting the ventilators when they demanded support for COVID-19 response.
“We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself,’’ Trump told the governors during a conference call, according to the New York Times.
If Trump could leave his own people out in the cold after they demanded for support, how much more Nigeria which the US president once labeled a “shithole”?
On May 29, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, said no specific date was given for the materialisation of the medical items. “On when the ventilators promised by President Trump will arrive, to the best of my knowledge, they have not arrived. When they arrive, it will be made known to the public,” he said. While Nigeria said the US president made the offer, Trump himself said the Nigerian government called to beg for the items.
Three months later, attempts to reach the US embassy and Nigeria’s Ministry of Health have been futile. At this point, it will not be over-reaching to conclude that Trump’s promise of shipping ventilators to Nigeria was merely banter. With over 400 new COVID-19 infections reported on Saturday; Nigeria has nearly 40,000 cases recorded so far, and with deaths fast approaching 1,000 – one of the highest in West Africa. Nigeria is in dire need of the medical equipment as time is of the essence